Head Coach: Matt Rhule
2015 Record: 10-4
2015 Bowl: 32-17 Loss to Toledo at Boca Raton Bowl
2016 Returning Starters: 9 Offense, 7 Defense
Odds to win 2017 Championship Game: +350000
Odds to win 2016 AAC Championship: +825
Regular Season over/under: 8.5 wins
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The Temple Owls would have to call last season a success after finishing as runners-up in the American Athletic Conference and making a bowl appearance, albeit a loss to Toledo. Temple comes back strong in 2016 with dual-threat QB P.J. Walker having plenty to do with it. He is a fourth year starter with the skills to push Temple to the top of the AAC once again.
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Walker threw for 2,973 yards last season with 19 TDs and eight INTs and the fact that he has a premier RB behind him in Jahad Thomas will only make things that much easier. Thomas rushed for 1,262 yards last season with 17 TDs. He will share more of the load this year with Ryquell Armstead, which will enable Walker to stay fresh as the season wears on. The loss of WR Robby Anderson will hurt some, but Adonis Jennings will look to step up to fill a lot of that void.
The OL should also still be strong with plenty of returning talent. Brendan McGowan and Dion Dawkins will make sure it is at least good, with both of them being star fixtures in the attack. Temple averaged 29.8 points per game last season while it was its strong defense that made the Owls so tough to take down last year. So let’s take a look at the defensive end of the ball to understand why Temple fared well last season.
Temple allowed just 20.1 points per game last season while allowing just 337 yards per game (No. 20 in the nation). That is not to say there are not questions coming into this season. Temple lost Tyler Matakevich, whose 138 tackles formed a crucial component of Temple’s defense. The Owls will look to the trio of Jarred Alwan, Stephan Marshall and Avery Williams to help replace what Matakevich did.
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The loss of Matt Ioannis hurts too, but DE Praise Martin-Oguike and DT Averee Robinson both will be vital. Robinson is a great run-stopper. The secondary is where Temple is the strongest, with Sean Chandler likely moving from CB to S. He is an NFL prospect and had 66 tackles to lead the secondary last season. He also came up with four INTs. The Owls will move WR Derrek Thomas to CB which should complete a very strong secondary. Kareem Ali will also be in the mix at CB, and he was a high school standout who should be able to thrive there, as well.
Alex Starzyk averaged 44.2 yards per punt last season and pinned 19 of 63 punts inside the 20. Austin Jones hit 23 of 28 place kicking last season and he will handle the duties once again.
Temple opens the season Sept. 2 against Army West Point and should have a laughter in Week 2 against Stony Brook. Then the tough games begin Week 3 against Penn State. Conference play begins Oct. 1 against SMU.
Temple lost three players to the NFL, but the team is sufficiently stocked with talent to make another good run in the AAC this season. The Week 3 matchup against Penn State will be a big test that could set the tone for the rest of the season. If Temple could enter AAC play with a 5-0 mark, it would set the Owls up nicely to better last season’s 10-win tally. It is a nice boon that both USF and Cincinnati are home contests for the Owls this season.
Prediction: 9 wins
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